Johnny Richards was one of the more progressive-minded arrangers of the 1950s and '60s, turning out big, heavily orchestrated scores with a sometimes unabashed use of dissonance and a good feel for Latin rhythms. His music has been called "provocatively colorful," though in the case of his notoriously portentous "Prologue" for the ego-tripping Stan Kenton, simply the word "provocative" says it all.
Born in Querétaro, Mexico, on November 2, 1911, Richards grew up in Schenectady, New York, learning piano, violin, banjo, and trumpet; his mother was a concert pianist who had studied with Paderewski. He started writing film scores, first in London in 1932-1933, and then in Hollywood for the remainder of the decade, as Victor Young's assistant at Paramount while studying composition with Arnold Schoenberg.
From 1940 to 1945, he led a big band and then returned to Los Angeles to arrange...